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The Americans Are Doing Halloween Wrong – Cartoon Logic

Yeah, I know they invented it, for the most part, but the Americans are doing Halloween wrong. Many of the modern Halloween traditions originate in the United States. Trick-or-treating started as things called ‘souling’ and ‘guising’ in Britain and Ireland, but the modern, door-to-door, dressed-up-and-collecting-sweets version is a North American invention. Jack-o’-lanterns too, while Irish in origin, are such an American thing these days. It’s part of the whole Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Thanksgiving, ‘Fall’ vibe they’ve got going. And yes, Halloween might have even originated as an ancient Pagan celebration or a Celtic harvest festival, but I maintain that Halloween is definitely more popular in the United States, in which case, the fact they are doing it wrong is even more annoying.

Let me explain. On this Planet Earth, we have certain festivals. Some of them are purely national, or regional, and celebrate very specific events. Lots of the big ones, though, have outgrown their origins and become celebrations of a theme, or an idea, or an emotion. Watch any Christmas special ever, and it’ll tell you that Christmas isn’t about Jesus, but about joy, or family, or something like that.

Of the major international (or at least, Anglophone) festivals, we’ve got St Valentine’s Day (which is about love, romance and chocolates), Easter (which is about Spring, new life and chocolates), Christmas (which is about joy, family and chocolates) and New Year’s Day (which is about resolutions, fireworks in London and chocolates). Then we’ve got Halloween. Halloween is the scary one. Halloween is about horror movies and haunted houses and ghosts and skeletons and chocolates. They’ve all got very specific themes. Very specific, chocolatey themes.

People like to have parties on these days too, often fancy dress parties, and Halloween is no exception. And herein lies the major fault of the Americans. They don’t dress up in scary costumes! To be honest, I haven’t seen any statistics, but the sense I get from American movies and television and experience of life in Britain is that we predominantly do scary costumes, if we do them at all, and they predominately do whatever the hell they want. And as the inventors of Halloween, the scary festival, they should be setting an example and doing it right! Do a Google Image search for ‘Halloween Costumes’. Look at the top row. We’ve got Disney characters, superheroes, Nacho bloody Libre, a Minion and Marty McFly! Marty McFly! About as scary as a duck. Just don’t call him chicken.

Let me set the rules, once and for all.

Acceptable: Skeletons. Ghosts. Spiders. Bats. Zombies. Vampires (classic, not Twilight variations). Frankenstein’s Monster. Evil clowns. But only evil ones. Witches. Basically any of the Universal monsters from the 1940s.

Borderline: Cats. A black cat is nearly acceptable, especially if you’re in the company of a witch. Anything with ‘dead’ as a prefix. Dead policemen. Dead schoolgirls. Come on. Is your imagination really so dull? Wizards. Pirates. I think robots are pushing it too, as are aliens. It’s horror, not science fiction.

Unacceptable: Anything from film and television, unless it is explicitly a horror character. DO NOT DRESS AS MARTY MCFLY. Anything ‘sexy’. This is a whole different kettle of fish, but it’s the scary festival, not the sexy one. Food. People dress as hotdogs. Don’t do this. Most animals.

Avoid like the plague: Anna Rexia. Any racist or national stereotypes. Nazis. ‘Lion Killer Dentist’.

There’s basically no point dressing up if you’re not going to do it properly. We all tend to get the decorations right. Spider webs, skeletons, bats. We don’t put up ‘sexy’ decorations, if we decorate at all. I’ve got a pumpkin on my mantelpiece, and even that feels like an indulgence.

Maybe it’s just me, and maybe the Americans actually do dress up properly, but let’s keep our festivals within their modern boundaries. Obviously, they’ve evolved over time, but we’ve got a pretty good set up at the moment. If you want to dress as animals, or film characters, then set up some new festivals. We could have an animal day, where we dress up as lions or horses or fish or whatever, and do nice things for animals. Take dogs for long walks. Raise money for the RSPCA.

Having said that, the Americans don’t have the RSPCA. Give them a few years, and they’d probably be dressing up as centaurs and unicorns. ‘A vampire counts as an animal, right?’ ‘No, but a sexy vampire might.’ ‘Oh, good news! Get out the glitter!’

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